According to statistical sources, approximately 70 percent of those who use the World Wide Web use Netscape Navigator as their browser. When these individuals need to search the Web, many of them click the handy "Net Search" button built into the software.
This button takes you to Netscape's search page, where four services (Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, and Lycos) vie for your attention, with additional search services displayed along the right side of the screen, and still more if you scroll down. Most if not all of these services are paying Netscape for the privilege of a place on this page. While this may not be a sufficient reason to avoid this page altogether, many useful alternatives exist. This column ["Internet Tips," in AMIGOS Agenda & OCLC Connection] will briefly review some of them.
Two helpful sites are the ALL-IN-ONE Search Page at http://www.albany.net/allinone/ and FINDSPOT at http://www.findspot.com/. ALL-IN-ONE provides search boxes for many engines on one page, while FINDSPOT has quick reference guides and more detailed search interfaces for a number of the major search engines.
A couple of the most comprehensive listings of search services can be found at CNET'sSEARCH.COM at http://www.search.com/ with over 400 listings, and Beaucoup at http://www.beaucoup.com/ which claims over 800 links. By comparison, Yahoo's collection of Internet search tools at http://www.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Internet/Searching_the_Net/ has only 47 listings.
At first glance, SEARCH.COM resembles Yahoo's main directory, with topics such as Computing, Employment, Entertainment, Health, etc., each with representative subtopics. But the categorized resources are all search services or specialized directories, not Web sites in general. Selecting a particular service gives you the opportunity to search it through CNET's interface (a "branded" version of the InfoSeek engine), or another click will take you directly to the service.
In order to compile such large numbers of sites, SEARCH.COM and Beaucoup use broad definitions of what constitutes a search engine. Just about any site with useful information that includes a search facility can be included. Under this definition, many corporate sites may be included. Even universities or nonprofits like OCLC could theoretically qualify as Internet search engines!
For more detailed descriptions of selected search services, the Scout Toolkit: Searching the Internet page at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/toolkit/searching/ is highly recommended. The "best" services are divided into five categories: Searchable Indexes, Subject Catalogs, Annotated Directories, Subject Guides, and Specialized Directories.
For in-depth coverage of the search engine field, the technology, the key players, trends and developments, check out Search Engine Watch at http://searchenginewatch.com/ Danny Sullivan, the site's creator, will be a featured speaker at the AMIGOS Fall Conference in November.
[This is reprinted with the publisher's and author's permission from the September 1997 issue of AMIGOS Agenda & OCLC Connection, p. 3. AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc., is in Dallas, Texas. The author's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]